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SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Schumer, the senior U.S. Senator from New York and the third ranking Democrat in the Senate, made the statement just days after similar comments by Texas Governor and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Perry, defended the right of Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana and said that Texas had implemented “policies that start us toward a decriminalization.” Perry was speaking on a panel about drug policy along with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, who both spoke out in favor of significant drug policy reform.

Jan 29

The Salinas Project

By Carolyn Brown, The Salinas Project | Op-Ed

About one hour south of the wealthy Silicon Valley, and twenty minutes east of the affluent Monterey/Carmel area, home of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course, sits the agricultural town of Salinas. The city of Salinas is at the head of a fertile valley – a part of the country brought into America’s consciousness through the stories of John Steinbeck. Along with an abundance of other crops, 80% of the nation’s lettuce and artichokes are grown here. Every day, Americans eat produce that is handpicked by immigrant farm workers in this area, but few understand the challenges the farm workers and their children face.

Over 550 labor, environmental, family farm and other organizations traditionally associated with President Barack Obama's political base sent a letter to Congress today opposing FastTrack legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other pending trade agreements.  The letter comes just a day before the President's annual State of the Union address.  Corporate interests that fought the president's re-election are lobbying for him to use the speech to call on Congress to enact Fast Track authority for the TPP.  The President's political base and many congressional Democrats stand in united opposition, emphasizing that the TPP threatens to exacerbate American income inequality.

Public education, one of the storied pillars of our society, is under attack by people and institutions who like to think of themselves as "reformers." What is the message of these self-styled reformers? They contend that the public schools have "failed." They want to close "underachieving" public schools. They want to fire teachers and kick out teachers' unions. They want to privatize public schools. Finally, they want to embrace high-stakes testing.

“What happens to a dream deferred?” asks Langston Hughes in “Harlem.”

As a poem of social consciousness, “Harlem” may often be reduced to literary analysis or an artifact of the Harlem Renaissance; as schools become more and more focused on the Common Core and raising scores on the related next-generation tests, the poem is likely to be (if at all) just one more text for close reading practice.

Jan 28

Myths that Are Impediments to Peace

By Dr James J Zogby, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

In a meeting I had this week with a congressional candidate, I was reminded of the power of the myths that define conventional wisdom about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the challenge they pose for rational discourse. In rapid succession my visitor rattled off a number of statements revealing how much he didn't know about the conflict and how steep the climb for those who seek a just peace.

Jan 28

The Passing of Anthony Guarisco

By Vincent L. Guarisco, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
To all, I'm sad to inform you that my father, Anthony Guarisco, a true maverick for hope & change, passed away on December 26, 2013. He may be gone... but not forgotten. For those of you not familiar, IAAV/AAV was a 501(c)3 non profit organization that worked on behalf of Veterans who participated in the 1940s and '50s in U.S. atmospheric nuclear weapons testing and were injured as a result of their exposure to radiation released from the weapon detonations. Anthony Guarisco, an atomic veteran whom honorably served in WWII & Korea, was the founder and director.
Jan 28

Hancock 17 Drone War Crimes Resisters Rest Their Case

By Carol Baum and Judy Bello, SpeakOut | Press Release

The defendants had hoped to begin the evening with testimony from international law expert Francis Boyle but he was not allowed to testify. Fifty supporters watched then as the last six more defendants testified about the intentions that brought them to the nonviolent action at Hancock Air Base on October 25, 2012. The defendants all came to Hancock to ask their government for redress of grievance, and to fulfill their duties as citizens upholding International Law, under which wars of aggression and indiscriminate killing are crimes. Reaper drones flown by pilots at Hancock are used commit CrimesAgainst Peace, War Crimes and violations of Human Rights law.

Jan 27

Self-Congratulatory Politicians Make a Mockery of MLK Day Celebrations

By Nick Malinowski, SpeakOut | News Analysis

It was profoundly unsettling to watch those that represent the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s opponents and assassins take up his mantle on Monday and exploit the celebration of his birthday for their own political gain. But there we were at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as a series of politicians unironically read excerpts from King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail and excoriated those privileged business leaders of Birmingham who King took to task for refusing to give up their own political clout and stature to hasten the coming of justice.

There is some comfort, I think, in a growing recognition that responses to Sherman have been at least fueled by racism—including the coincidence of Justin Bieber’s arrest and the resulting confrontation of how Sherman has been labeled a “thug” while Bieber’s wealth and white/male status shield him from a number of verbal and legal consequences that African American males experience daily.